Better User Experiences and More Robust Applications Pluralsight Course

My new Pluralsight course was just published which shows how to use the open source Polly library.

Polly is a great library by Michael Wolfenden for configuring the automatic retrying of operations if exceptions occur. Transient errors such as the network being slow/unavailable for a small amount of time can normally result in errors surfacing to the user and/or into log files that need looking at.

By using one of the exception handling strategies that Polly provides, these transient exceptions can automatically be retried, preventing user errors and/or log entries.

There are four strategies:

  • Retry Forever
  • Retry
  • Wait and Retry
  • Circuit Breaker

Polly is configured in a fluent way, for example to use the Wait and Retry strategy to retry 3 times waiting 2, 4, and 6 seconds between retries:

Policy.Handle<some exception>()
      .Execute(some action);

Check out the Polly GitHub repo, the NuGet package or the “Better User Experiences and More Robust Applications with Polly” Pluralsight course.

FeatureToggle 3.2 Released

FeatureToggle logo image

A minor release of my open source FeatureToggle library has just been released to NuGet.

Version 3.2 was a result of user requests to be able to configure toggles that get their values from sql server to be configured using the <connectionStrings> section of the .config file.

A Sql based toggle can now be configured a number of different ways

Using appSettings only

This is the original method:

   <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.ConnectionString" value="Data Source=.\SQLEXPRESS;Initial Catalog=FeatureToggleDatabase;Integrated Security=True;Pooling=False"/>
   <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.SqlStatement" value="select Value from Toggle where ToggleName = 'SaveToPdfFeatureToggle'"/>

Using connectionStrings Entry by Convention

    <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.SqlStatement" value="select Value from Toggle where ToggleName = 'SaveToPdfFeatureToggle'"/>

    <add name="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle" connectionString="Data Source=.\SQLEXPRESS;Initial Catalog=FeatureToggleIntegrationTests;Integrated Security=True;Pooling=False" />    


Using connectionStrings Custom Named Entry

This option allows multiple toggles to share a named connection if you have more than one sql toggle in the application.

    <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.SqlStatement" value="select Value from Toggle where ToggleName = 'SaveToPdfFeatureToggle'"/>
    <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.ConnectionStringName" value="myAwesomeConnection" />

    <add name="myAwesomeConnection" connectionString="Data Source=.\SQLEXPRESS;Initial Catalog=FeatureToggleIntegrationTests;Integrated Security=True;Pooling=False" />    


Thanks to the following people for contributions and ideas:

Improving Test Code Readability and Assert Failure Messages with Shouldly

Shouldly is an open source library that aims to improve the assert phase of tests; it does this in two ways. The first is offering a more “fluent like” syntax that for the most part leverages extension methods and obviates the need to keep remembering which parameter is the expected or actual as with regular Assert.Xxxx(1,2) methods. The second benefit manifests itself when tests fail; Shouldly outputs more readable, easily digestible test failure messages.

Failure Message Examples

The following are three failure messages from tests that don’t use Shouldly and instead use the assert methods bundled with the testing framework (NUnit,, etc):

  • “Expected: 9  But was:  5”
  • “Assert.NotNull() Failure”
  • “Not found: Monday In value:  List<String> ["Tuesday", "Wednesday", "Thursday"]”

In each of the preceding failure messages, there is not much helpful context in the failure message.

Compare the above to the following equivalent Shouldly failure messages:

  • “schedule.TotalHours should be 9 but was 5”
  • “schedule.Title should not be null or empty”
  • “schedule.Days should contain "Monday" but does not”

Notice the additional context in these failure messages. In each case here, Shouldly is telling us the name of the variable in the test code (“schedule”) and the name of the property/field being asserted (e.g. “Total Hours”).

Test Code Readability

For the preceding failure messages, the following test assert code is used (notice the use of the Shouldly extension methods):

  • schedule.TotalHours.ShouldBe(9);
  • schedule.Title.ShouldNotBeNullOrEmpty();
  • schedule.Days.ShouldContain("Monday");

In these examples there is no mistaking an actual value parameter for an expected value parameter and the test code reads more “fluently” as well.

To find out more about Shouldly check out the project on GitHub, install via NuGet, or checkout my Better Unit Test Assertions with Shouldly Pluralsight course.

FeatureToggle Version 3 Released

FeatureToggle logo image

Version 3 of my open source feature toggle library is now released to NuGet.

Version 3 introduces some breaking changes and new features.

Breaking Changes

  • The WPF value convertor package has been removed for version 3 as it’s trivial to implement a version in individual applications and reduce the maintenance overhead for the porject
  • Version 3 removes support for Windows Phone 8.0 (you can still use version 2.x if you need this support)

New Features

Platforms Support

In addition to .NET framework 4 full, version 3 also supports:

  • Windows Phone 8.1 Silverlight apps
  • Windows Universal Apps 8.1 (Store and Windows Phone 8.1 WinRT)
  • Windows Store 8.1 apps

Future versions will add support for Windows 10 apps.

New Toggle Types

The EnabledOnOrAfterAssemblyVersionWhereToggleIsDefinedToggle (a little verbose I know) allows a feature to become enabled once a specified assembly version number is reached. The assembly version used is that of the assembly inside which the toggle is defined, rather that the executing assembly. The configuration value for this toggle would be (for example)

Future version will add support for comparing the executing assembly version.

New Decorators

A new type of feature that version 3 introduces is the idea of toggle decorators. These are classes that “wrap” one or more toggles and provide additional features.

The DefaultToEnabledOnErrorDecorator and the DefaultToDisabledOnErrorDecorator allows a default value to provided if there is an error evaluating the wrapped toggle value, for example with a configuration error. These decorators should be used with caution as your application may end up in an unknown state if you forget to configure something properly. In some cases you may want this behaviour rather than the application failing.

Assuming that a feature toggle called MyFeatureToggle has been defined, to use the decorator the following code would be used.

IFeatureToggle printFeatureThatDefaultsToDisabled = new DefaultToDisabledOnErrorDecorator( new MyFeatureToggle() );

bool isPrintEnabled = printFeatureThatDefaultsToDisabled.FeatureEnabled;

These decorators also allow you to specify an optional logging action that gets called if the wrapped toggle throws an exception:

new DefaultToDisabledOnErrorDecorator(wrappedToggle, ex => Console.WriteLine(ex.Message));


The CompositeAndDecorator allows multiple toggles to be wrapped, only if all these wrapped toggles are enabled will the decorator return true.

IFeatureToggle andToggle = new CompositeAndDecorator(new AnEnabledFeature(), new ADisabledFeature());

var isEnabled = andToggle.FeatureEnabled; // returns false


The final new decorator is the FixedTimeCacheDecorator. This allows a toggle that gets its value from a slow source (such as remote database, http, etc.) to have its value cached for a fixed period of time. To use this you specify the wrapped toggle and a TimeSpan.

IFeatureToggle cachedToggle = new FixedTimeCacheDecorator(cachedToggle, TimeSpan.FromSeconds(10));


Check out the release notes on GitHub. If you find any problems or bugs or want to suggest other features, please create an issue on GitHub.

Clean C# eBook Published

The final version of my free Clean C# eBook has just been published.

Clean C# eBook Cover Image


You can download the book for free from

The book contains the following chapters:

  • Comments
  • Naming Things
  • Methods
  • Structuring Programs for Readability
  • Errors and Exceptions
  • Visual Formatting
  • Cohesion and Coupling
  • Clean Tests
  • Building On Clean Code
  • New Free eBook: LINQ Succinctly

    My new free Syncfusion eBook is now available.


    LINQ Succinctly is available from the Syncfusion site along with all the other eBooks in the Succinctly series.

    LINQ Succinctly covers the following areas:

    1. LINQ Fundamentals
    2. Fluent and Query Expression Styles
    3. LINQ Query Operators
    4. LINQ to XML
    5. Interpreted Queries
    6. Parallel LINQ
    7. LINQ Tools and Resources

    An Update on FeatureToggle v3 Development

    The next version of my open source feature toggling library is currently in development.

    Version 3 will introduce a number of new features and retire support for some older platforms. For the currently implemented changes (not yet released at the time of writing) see GitHub release notes, and the complete list of v3 issues/features.

    Some notable additions include some new toggle types to enable scenarios such as automatically enabling a feature once the assembly version number meets or exceeds a specific version and decorators to allow a toggle to default to on or off if the underlying toggle errors in some way, such as missing configuration or network error while retrieving the toggle value from a remote source such as SQL Server.

    Once v3 development is complete it will be available via NuGet.

    New Pluralsight Course - Better .NET Unit Tests with AutoFixture

    My new Pluralsight testing course was just released: Better .NET Unit Tests with AutoFixture: Get Started.

    AutoFixture is an open source library that allows the simplification of automated .NET tests. It allows for the creation of “anonymous” test data. This is data that is required for the test to execute, but where the exact values are unimportant.

    AutoFixture is not dependent upon any specific testing framework, so can be used with, NUnit, MSTest, etc. There are some additional extensions for specific testing frameworks such as that allow further reductions in unit test setup code.

    For more info check out the GitHub site or the Pluralsight course.

    If you like AutoFixture be sure to give open source thanks to Mark Seemann.